|14A063 Does Government Ever Work? by Jim Davies, 12/12/2014
Harry Browne famously answered "No" and he was quite right, but it can't be literally true because however ineptly someone spends $6.5 trillion, it's not possible that nothing works at all. There are, after all, roads for example; overpriced, overcongested and overpoliced, but they do generally run, from A to B. Air traffic control does control air traffic. Redistributed money quite often reaches its intended beneficiaries. There really was a moon landing, unless the tinfoil-hat folk are correct. USAF smart bombs, developed by private industry under contract, do frequently kill their intended targets, and government schools do pretty well exactly produce what they were always intended to produce: dumbed-down graduates.
It frequently works badly, and competitive free enterprise would always be more efficient, and it very frequently does things that ought never to be done, such as policing the world; but in a fashion, it stumbles along. It's not literally a rusting wreck. Yet
Recently news reached me however that the US military, the biggest and best in all the world, is not quite all it's cracked up to be. Possibly, even in that respect, government doesn't properly work - even if one wrongly assumes that a military is needed at all.
The first item was about an incident last April in the Black Sea. The USS Donald Cook had sailed there to intimidate Russia, and was "buzzed" by a Russian Su-24. That was admitted by the Captain and details are on Wikipedia. Notice, it reports that one version of events says the Russkies "jammed" its electronic warfare system, Aegis, but that "this claim could not be independently verified." Well, no; what independent verifier might have been present?
The Russian version is quite emphatic, and worth reading. Which version is true, which is the lie? Both come from governments, so both may be presumed mendacious until proven otherwise. But suppose the Russians really can disable the entire set of eyes, ears and triggers aboard US combat units, at the flick of a switch; that would mean that virtually the whole Navy is not only needless, but also useless. And we have to pay for this?
I then dug up some more about Aegis, and found it had equipped the USS Vincennes, back in 1988 when that ship killed 290 innocents aboard Iran Air 655. Allegedly the electronic system was not to blame; incredibly, Aegis showed normal behavior by the airline pilot but the Vincennes crew advised the Captain that Flight 655 had climbed erratically, then taken direct aim at his ship, then emitted a squawk like an Iranian F-14. Assuming that account is true rather than a whitewash to protect the reputation of Lockheed's Aegis, that expensive information system was ignored. What use is a clever automated system when less accurate, human observations are going to over-rule it? Either way, the government's military doesn't work. Not when it matters most.
There's a broader sense in which the US military doesn't work: it tends to lose wars, when facing enemies far weaker than itself. There was a victory in 1945, when traditional armies faced each other and the side that made the fewest mistakes, won; likewise in 1953 until a Korean armistice was signed - and again in 1991 when routing the mighty forces of Iraq. But otherwise? Vietnamese peasants, with a little help, defeated the US. Iraqi "insurgents" harassed US occupiers after the 2003 invasion, and so did those in Afghanistan; belatedly, the US is leaving. Maybe. In neither case was there any victory. Vastly superior force didn't work, when the defenders fought as guerillas. The "porcupine defense" works fine. It's all that the coming free society, also, will require.
Against the IS thugs too, traditional military force will not work - unless they are foolish enough to establish a State, with borders and armies. For as long as they hide, and emerge to kill the invader when he isn't looking, they will not be repressed; not now, not even if US "boots on the ground" are re-committed, as General Dempsey has suggested. Such boots would be sucked down in a quagmire, desert though it is, again.
The American Revolution would have been won, even if no formal armies had been fielded nor French assistance provided. All that was needed was what was done when it began; to harass the occupier until he left of his own volition, having found that occupation was costing more than it was worth. Yet when the politicians got together in Philly afterwards, they formed a collectivist defense system in a traditional military form; with us, still. And as we've just seen, it doesn't work - and for defense, if ever that need arose, it's inefficient and vulnerable, for a central command is capable of surrender.
So, as in the case of poverty relief, education, mail delivery, peacekeeping, justice, money, pensions, health care, environmental protection, fiscal responsibility, even the military function of government doesn't work. Who needs it? Nobody. Dig its grave.